Saturday, May 1, 2010
hooray! i'm blogging in China!
I made it to Kunming! As you can see in the photo above, Kunming is a large urban center with loads of people and concrete. If you squint through the smog, you can see some mountains in the background. I'm hoping to get to one of those hills this weekend. It's May Day (International Labour Day, Worker's Day) in China, so I don't have formal work duties on Monday. This is great because I have been working my butt off over the last several days (and in the weeks leading up to this trip). Yay for 3-day weekends!
Michael Pollan would approve of my breakfasts in China! Almost all of what I eat has a single whole food ingredient: bok choy greens, snap peas, soybeans/tofu, watermelon, honeydew, some fruit I don’t know the name of which has white flesh and small black seeds that come out in my poo.
I am slowly settling into life here. The downside of jet lag is that I get up each morning exactly at 5 am, and since I am going to bed at midnight because I am working late at night, that means 5 hours of sleep each night. It's not quite enough for me. The upside is that I have enough time before I go to the hospital to do sitting meditation for 30 minutes, yoga for one hour, and sometimes 30 minutes of deep relaxation thrown in. It's a great way to start my day, and I think it keeps me grounded amidst all the work intensity.
Above is one of the Yunnan special treats: rose petal cakes. It consists of dry flakey dough with fragrant sweet rose petals inside. The best part is that I bought it from a bakery next door to the apartment I will be moving into tomorrow called RAMBO Bread Works. GRRRRrrr…
In terms of work, it has already been interesting, rewarding, and a big (though good) challenge on this trip. I don’t have any pictures of me at work (since I am often running around at the hospital), but perhaps later.
I enjoy this work. I am tired from my 12 hour days, but this work definitely feels meaningful in a big way. I saw a bunch of patients yesterday, and feel more grounded to be connected with patients (who really put up with a lot here, as witnessed when the 27 year old man totally discolored and wasted from his advanced liver disease, TB in his lungs and belly, and another painful disease – MAC- smiled and shook my hand and told me how grateful he was to be examined even though it hurt like hell), and also happy that I can offer concrete, practical and real help to the clinicians. There are of course internal politics and power issues I need to navigate, so it will yet to be seen what we can accomplish. I have already a list of concrete interventions that I think we can help with, including big things like task-shifting to community organizations and small things like hand sanitizer. It's great to see it all coming together in a real, tangible way.
This Chinglish bag from my hotel room contained the Ethernet cable I’m using right now to tunnel to my blog (boy, that was an interesting challenge!). It says how I feel sometimes: while the internet miraculously connects me to you from around the globe and allows me to do this international work, it is also the “Non-Gift” that keeps me from being fully present to my environment. With that said, I’m going to upload this post, turn off my computer, and go out to explore the May Day parade and the temples of Kunming!